Sulejman Pasha Bargjini, a native feudal lord from Mullet, established the city in 1614. His first constructions were a mosque, a bakery and a hamam (Turkish bath). On February 8, 1920 Tirana was made the temporary capital by the Congress of Lushnje, and it was proclaimed the permanent capital on December 31, 1925.
Albania spent the majority of the last 60 years under a strict and isolationist Dictator, Enver Hoxha. Upon his death, the country moved towards a free market economic model, with mixed results. Presently, Tirana is where the old and new Albania meet. Unpaved streets host brand new Land Rovers, iPhone-toting youngsters rub shoulders with street vendors peddling all manners of items, and gleaming glass towers look down on abandoned construction projects.
Tourists usually find Tirana an interesting and charming city, with a lively night life. However, Tirana suffers from pollution problems mainly due to the rapid increase in cars in the city and continuous construction. Long gone are the days when Tirana used to be subject to power outages almost daily and this made Tirana a noisy city as the lack of power and lack of traffic lights had cars navigating by honking their horns.
Today the situation has dramatically improved regarding power outages. Tirana is undergoing a major renovation from its communist days. Many of the ugly dull buildings have been repainted, but a lot of work is left to be done. English is rapidly gaining steam as the second language of the city with the youth but many older residents also speak Italian.
Albanians are very hospitable towards foreigners, despite media frequently portraying them as thieves and mobsters. Tirana itself is very approachable if you're the adventurous type - crime is rarely, if ever directed towards foreigners and the costs are very low by regional standards. The worst experience you may have is with the occasional Roma beggar or the erratic driving style of Albanians.
The main business and entertainment area (not by coincidence) has become "The Block" (Blloku) which is the area where in the past, the communist leaders used to live under strict protection. Locals prefer to hang out at the many cafes and main parks. A popular retreat is by cable car to Mount Dajti where one can get a panoramic view of the city from above.
A new tourist information office has recently opened on Rruga Ded Gjo Luli, just north of Skanderbeg Square (behind the National Historic Museum). The English-speaking staff are very helpful and can provide maps and directions to hostels/hotels etc. Also free copies of "Tirana in your pocket" guide, which includes vital information about bus and furgon schedules.
 Get in
 By plane
Tirana is served by Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza (Rinas International Airport) (IATA: TIA)  17 km from the centre of town.
The following airlines offer service to/from Tirana:
Adria Airways (Ljubljana), Austrian Tyrolean Airways (Vienna), Belle Air (Ancona, Athens, Bari, Bologna, Cuneo, Florence, Forli, Genoa, Heraklion, Milan-Malpensa, Milan-Orio al Serio, Parma, Perugia, Pisa, Pristina, Rhodes, Rimini, Rome-Fiumicino, Trieste, Venice-Treviso, Verona, Zurich), British Airways (London-Gatwick), Lufthansa (Munich), Olympic Air (Athens, Thessaloniki), Turkish Airlines (Istanbul-Atatürk)
Rinas Express  operates an hourly bus between 6:00am and 6:00pm from the airport to Skanderberg Square and vice versa. It costs 250 lek each way and leaves every hour on the hour from both the airport and from Skanderberg Square. It runs from about 8AM to 7PM. The trip takes around 25-30 minutes. From the airport exit doors, walk towards the parking lot past the taxi touts to find the bus stop. At Skanderberg Square, the bus stop is located around the northwest corner, near other bus stops. The bus is not only punctual but sometimes even early, so plan to be there a few minutes in advance. Do not be intimidated by the signs not mentioning "airport" or any variation of it at the Skanderberg Square stop, just look for the "Rinas" sign. merrTAXI.com , 0800 55 55 (toll free) and Airport Taxi Express  offer transportation to and from Rinas International Airport.
 By train
Tirana has no international train connections. You can only reach Tirana by train operated by HSH sh.a. (map here [warning:PDF] ) from the following cities: Durrës (100 lek, one hour, 8 daily), Shkodra (160 lek, 3.5 hours, twice daily), Elbasan (200 lek, 4 hours, 3 daily), Vlorë (210 lek, 5.5 hours, twice daily) and Pogradec (350 lek, 4 hours, twice daily). Even though train services are very poor, when compared to West Balkan standards, they may be more frequent, cheaper, and more scenic than taking the bus. Taking the train to Elbasan is not recommended: the four hour trip makes a large detour via Durrës (not very scenic) while Elbasan is only 35 km away from Tiranë.
 By bus & van
Intercity buses near Tirana's main stadium
Tirana does not have a central bus station, so you may be dropped at various locations in the city. Buses can be used to reach Tirana from other cities in Albania and internationally. There is daily bus service from Turkey, Skopje, Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, and Athens, Greece and multiple services per day to Pristina, Kosovo and other cities in Albania. Schedules change frequently so check the latest info in your place of departure.
From Montenegro, take a bus or taxi to Ulcinj, then take a bus or taxi to Shkodra in Albania, crossing the border at Muriqan. Buses leave Shkodra frequently for Tirana.
From Serbia, as of January 2012, take the 20:40 train from Belgrade to Bar, arrive 07:11 (21.200RSD, 21€, 30U$), walk a few meters to the bus station, and take the 08:00 or the 08:40 bus to Ulcinj (2,50€, 35mins), and the 12:30 bus to Shkodër (only that service confirmed every day, ticket: 6€, 1h45). Everyone must stay in the bus at the border control in Muriqan. You'll arrive to Shkodër at 14:15 and you have plenty of furgon to Tirana. Try to get Leks in advance. Furgon to Tirana costs 500Leks or 5€ (but: 500Leks are only 3€). Trip takes about 1h30. So, you'll get to Tirana Train Station in the Furgon at arroud 18:30, almost 22h after leaving Belgrade! But, only with 30€.
Buses to and from Kosovo depart from downtown (behind museum where one also can find buses to Rinas airport). Although everyone says it takes 12 hours, the trip actually takes just 5. Buy the ticket on a travel agency (costs 15€, or 20.000Leks). Busses (no more than 4 a day) leaves from UFO University, near Skenderberg Place, at noon.
Buses and furgons (minibuses) are generally the best method for traveling within Albania, but they are not in the best of shape. There are few bus companies; many are operated by individual drivers. Bus lines have schedules, but are often delayed until the coaches are full or a the whim of the driver. Some international bus stations are far from the centre so it may be worth taking a taxi to the bus stop to save time and energy and avoid getting lost.
 By boat
Tirana is not a port, so you can't get there directly by boat. There are, however, reasonable sea routes from Italy (from the ports in Bari, Trieste, and Ancona) to Durrës, the nearest port to Tirana  from where you can take the train (which comes approximately every two hours) or a bus to Tirana. You could also rent a car and be in Tirana in about 20 minutes.
Et'hem Bey Mosque & Clock Tower
- Clock Tower (Kulla e Sahatit), Skanderbeg Square. 09:00-13:00, 16:00-18:00. Closed Tuesday, Thursday, & Friday. Positioned in the city centre, this tower has become a symbol of Tirana. It is one of the oldest constructions in Tirana, built in the 1820s. Don't forget to visit the nearby Clock Towers of Albania Museum featuring Clock Towers from around Albania. 10 lek. edit
- Et'hem Bey Mosque, Skanderbeg Square. 08:00 - 22:00 (summer), 08:00 - 19:00 (winter). Construction of this mosque took about 28 years and finished in 1821. It is considered one of the most beautiful mosques in Albania with very interesting decorations and art-work within it. edit
- National Historic Museum, Skanderbeg Square, ☎ +355 4 222 34 46, . 10:00-17:00, closed Mondays. The main museum in Tirana, it is in the centre of the city, easily recognizable because of a huge mosaic standing on top of its front facade. It contains many artifacts ranging from ancient times through Hoxha's regime. Repeated looting in the 1990s has robbed the museum of many artefacts, but it remains the best place in Albania to learn its history. Harrowing exhibition about Albania's gruesome labour camp system. Not enough English. 200 lek. edit
International Centre of Culture (former Enver Hoxha museum), known also as Piramida
- National Art Gallery (Galeria Kombetare e Arteve), Bulevardi Deshmoret e Kombit, . 9:00am to 7:00pm. 13th century pieces, modern art, socialist art. 200 lek. edit
- Bush Street (Rruga Presidenti George W. Bush), (Across from Parliament Building and Murat Toptani Street). This street was named after US President George W. Bush in honor of his 2007 visit. edit
Ujvara is also a neighborhood in Tirana, it is located near "Stadium Dinamo". This neighborhood is called Ujvara because one of the first cafes and casinos was a place called Ujvara that is still standing now days because it has been reconstructed every few years.
- Piramida (International Centre of Culture), Dëshmore ë Kombit, across from the Twin Towers.. The pyramid was built in 1987 according to the design of Enver Hoxha's daughter and was originally a museum of her father. US president George W Bush gave a speech in front of this building. The building was the most expensive erected under communism. Today it's derelict building halfway occupied by a TV station. Much of the façade has been stripped or stolen and the glass is broken and boarded up. There are plans for future changes working with Hoxha's daughter, but the building has sat untouched for years. edit
"Porcelani" is a neighborhood in the suburban part of Tirane. It is near mountain Dajti in the exit of Tirana. This neighborhood is called Porcelani because in that area Porcelain tiles were made.
- Blloku or Ish-Blloku (The Block), Mainly Rr. Ismail Qemali and nearby streets (take the bus signed 'Tirana e Re'; get off at the namesake station), . Among the apartment blocks, one can find some of Tirana's best cafés, shops, and restaurants. Here is also located the villa of the former dictator, Enver Hoxha. During communism, the area was reserved solely for government officials and was not allowed to be entered by the commoner. It was opened to the public in 1991 and since became the number one spot for Tirana's youth. At night the area gets full of people especially on weekends when most night clubs are full. The streets, especially in summer afternoons, are filled with Tirana's citizens and expensive cars cruising around. From the Block you can go almost anywhere for less than 10-15 minutes. If you need to have a coffee or relax while taking a look at the parade of trendy and elegant people, the block is a perfect place for you. In the Block you can buy trendy clothing items and French delicacies. You can also get taxis. edit
- National Archaeological Museum of Albania, Sheshi Nene Tereza, ☎ 222 6541. This museum features ancient artifacts from Illyrian to Roman and Hellenic times featuring wonderful mosaics, Roman statues and illustrative maps. edit
- National Library of Albania (Biblioteka Kombëtare e Shqipërisë), Rr. Luigj Gurakuqi, . The library holds over a million books and is known for its ancient collections. edit
- Resurrection of Christ Orthodox Cathedral (Katedralja Ortodokse e Ringjalljes se Krishtit), Rr. Deshmoret e 4 Shkurtit (West of Skanderbeg Square nearby the Ministry of Defence). This cathedral is brand new featuring fascinating architecture and rich interior iconography. edit
- Sali Shijaku's Traditional House, Rr. Vildan Luarasi (A few blocks east of the Train Station), ☎ 4 226 1458. This well preserved traditional house owned by painter Sali Shijaku features art displays, traditional house emnities, and a restaurant. edit
- Tirana Zoo (Kopshti Zoologjik Tiranë). 09:00 - 18:00. Visiting this zoo is an odd experience; there are few animals but you will see them at remarkably close range. Nearby is located the Botanical Garden featuring the best of Albania's fauna. 50 lek. edit
Small park in downtown Tirana
- Tirana Mosaic (Mozaiku i Tiranes), Blloku pallateve Partizani, Lagja nr. 9. The mosaic was discovered following excavations for an apartment complex. Various artifacts point to the presence of a village in the area thousands of years ago. This is the only archaeological site in Tirana! edit
- Saint Paul Catholic Cathedral (Katedralja e Shen Palit), Bulevardi Zhan D'Ark (Across from ETC and the Pyramid). Recently constructed, this cathedral features fascinating window murals. edit
- Natural Sciences Museum of Albania, Rruga e Kavajes. This museum features the fauna and geological composition of Albania. edit
- Martyrs' Cemetery, Rr. e Elbasanit. This is the cemetery where the remains of 900 partisans that fought for Tirana are buried. Here one can also find the 12m statue of Mother Albania (1972). Hoxha was buried here in 1985 but exhumed in 1992 and moved to the Sharra cemetery on the other end of the city. edit
- Enver Hoxha's grave, Varrezat e Sharres. Today Enver Hoxha rests at the Sharra cemetery Varrezat e Sharres . The graves position according to GPS is 41°18'455"N 19°45'707"E,position taken by GPS right on the grave. Take a bus Kinostudio-Kombinat. Get off at the last stop (namely, Kombinat). Keep going in the direction the bus went. You are going along the street Rruga Llazi Miho turning into an interstate road. Soon you'll see a broken factory and some flower-mongers on your right. Cross the interstate road and turn left when you see a lot of flower-mongers and tombstone-carvers in the narrow street rising uphill (namely Rruga Bakolli). Follow the street. Soon you'll see the cemetery. Enter it through the very first gates on your left (it isn't the main entrance). Turn left at the first crosspaths (just 3 grave rows from the gates). Follow the path going towards the cemetery wall. Turn right at the first crosspaths. Follow the broad path uphill and look on your right paying attention to the second graves in perpendicular rows. Soon you'll see a red/grey/black grave with a doubleheaded eagle atop. It's the grave. As of July 2012 the tombstone was broken into small pieces. edit
Go for a walk in the evening along the main streets or at one of the several parks and sit for a coffee or drink. Take part in the vibrant nightlife by visiting one of the numerous nightclubs. If you are adventurous and brave enough, try the peculiar experience of driving in the city's streets by renting a car, or rent a bicycle from an Ecovolis station. You can also cruise the city with a limousine or venture out in the picturesque suburbs either south or northeast/west of Tirana. Below are some venturing suggestions:
- Sky Tower Rotating Bar. (Rr. Ibrahim Rugova) This is a must! The rotation is a bit jerky and may leave you slightly seasick.
- Murat Toptani Street. Murat Toptani Street is a recently opened pedestrian only street east of Rinia Park constructed with stone and located nearby Tirana Castle walls. Traditional houses, cafes, and a local park are found here. edit
- Sheshi Skënderbej (Skanderbeg Square). Tirana's city centre. A statue of Albanian hero Skanderbeg stands in the square with the Albanian flag on the side. Renovations have made the square pedestrians and public transportation friendly. Government buildings featuring Italian architecture and some structures outlined below are all right off this square. edit
- Dëshmorët e Kombit Boulevard (Bulevardi Dëshmorët e Kombit (Nation's Martyrs Boulevard)). A panoramic boulevard built by the Italians in the 1930s similar to the Champs de Elysee extending south from Skanderberg Square. The boulevard features Fascist, Communist, and modern architecture of government buildings, business centers and hotels. Many local parks are found here. edit
- Taiwan Complex (Kompleksi Tajvani), . This beautiful place in the heart of downtown Tirana. It includes restaurants, casinos, bars, a club, etc. It is surrounded by a huge lit water fountain with a glowing bridge that reaches to the restaurant, and is an ideal place for all ages. Children enjoy gourmet ice cream and iced European soft drinks, whilst adults and teens can enjoy fun casinos. This is an excellent tourist attraction, and many Albanian celebrities can be found in the area. Also you can play bowling there because there is a special place in the underground floor. edit
- Mother Teresa Square. Located at the southern side of Deshmoret e Kombit Boulevard, this square features typical Fascist architecture. Buildings include the University of Tirana, Archaeological Institute, Academy of Arts and the National Stadium. edit
- Mount Dajti (Mount Dajti National Park), Dajt Commune, . 1,612m high. Offers great views of Tirana. A very relaxing area, mount Dajti can be reached through an Austrian-built express cable car. The view along the route is worth the cost even if you don't stay atop the mountain.A place where one can spend holidays and engage in various activities like horse riding, trekking, excursions, sky sports, ski etc. The area has a limited number of hotels and restaurants, but it is great for taking a breath of fresh air, mountain sports, or to just get out of the city for a while. The Pellumba Cave in the area is worth a visit. Unfortunately, litter is becoming a problem on Mount Dajti. This detracts from the experience somewhat, but the beautiful scenery still makes the trip worthwhile. 500 lek. edit
- Grand Park along the Artificial Lake (Parku i Madh), (southern part of the city). People have picnics and have fun, and the natural beauty allows it because of the huge trees, open spaces, and mountains surrounding them. An artificial lake lies in the middle of the Park. It is popular with locals and tourists as a place to walk around and enjoy a lunch or coffee at one of the restaurants or cafés. Over 120 types of plants. A popular swimming pool complex is located nearby. edit
- Ali Demi Skate Park, (Go north-east on the Bulevardi-Bajram-Curri, and then take a right on the Ruga-Ali-Demi. You should go about half a mile on that road. Then the skate park will be directly on your right. You can’t miss it; its right next to a park with a fountain in the middle of it and a café with a junglejim, there are many green ramps.). The Ali-Demi skate park is a great place to go with your family because there is a nice park on one of the sides next to the skate park, there are markets, and a beautiful café shop with a playground for small children with typical swings and benches and soccer fields in the back. The skate park is full of people on bikes, roller skates, and skate boarders. The Skate Park is very good for beginners, the ramps are all cement (there is coping on the ramps). The ramps have a good variety—there are small ramps along with big ones. Almost all the ramps are shaped like a plateau they are good for caching air. There are many places to do ollies and 180s off of and other places to grind if you are an experienced skate boarder. The skate park is slightly below the rest of the park so you shouldn’t go when it’s raining because it fills up with water. There are quarter pipes along the sides of the skate park. This skate park is very fun for skaters, bikers, and rollerskaters. edit
 Suburban Tirana
- Petrela Castle. This is one of Albania's best preserved castles, found a short distance south of Tirana. It is known as an ancient settlement 2000 years old and was commanded by princess Mamica, the sister of the national hero, Skanderbeg. edit
- Preze Castle. This 15th century castle is located on the picturesque hills of Preze village west of Rinas Airport. edit
- Brar Canyon and Bridge (Northeast of Tirana inside Mount Dajti National Park), Brar village (Follow Myslym Keta Street). A panoramic canyon and Ottoman bridge just steps from the capital. Spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and Tirana. A cave and a few traditional houses can also be found. edit
- Southeast of Tirana, Rruga e Elbasanit (South-East of Tirana). Many small resorts are located in the outskirts of the city along Rruga e Elbasanit. One locality features shooting range facilities, a modest golf club and horse riding facility, while others wooden villa accommodation and swimming pools. edit
- Cave of Pellumbas. Very close to Tirana, Pellumbas village opens spectacular rural landscapes. After walking a 2 km long trail you get to the wonderful archaeological site of Albania. Outdoor Albania organizes guided trips to Cave of Pellumbas. edit
 Coastal retreat
- Lalzit Bay Beach (Gjiri i Lalzit) 30 km from Tirana north of Durres near Rodon Cape is a popular retreat. A small resort can also be found.
- General's Beach (Plazhi i Gjeneralit) 60 km from Tirana southwest of Kavaje near Spille village is also a popular retreat. The name stems from an Italian general who used to rest at this beach during the world wars.
Most popular events include Summer Day celebrations in 14 March, and Independence Day festivities on November 28. Recently, a number of prestigious festivals have become a tradition in the city's calendar of events such as:
- Tirana International Film Festival (Tirana Film Fest), . This annual film festival held at the end of November and beginning of December highlights the work of ethnic Albanian artists. edit
- Tirana International Contemporary Art Biannual (Tirana Biennale), ☎ 692069011, . This biannual art festival features the best of internatioanl contemporary art. It was last held in 2009 at the historic Hotel Dajti building. edit
- Rally Albania, Mother Teresa Square, ☎ 4 2231 586, . The event features an international competition in the rough Albanian countryside roads. edit
- Tirana Marathon, Main city streets, ☎ +355 44311583, +355 684048078, . The event features an international running and cycling competition through the main streets of Tirana. edit
- Tirana Art Days, Different city venues. The event features 25 activities in 3 days ranging from exhibitions to film screenings. edit
- Albanian Wine Festival, Murat Toptani Street. The event features wine tasting from a variety of producing areas in Albania. edit